67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
1901 ASV Translation:
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,
68 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; For he hath visited and wrought redemption for his people,
There is only one variation between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26. The Textus Receptus has a misspelled form of the aorist tense of "prophesied", which the Nestle/Aland 26 has in a correct form.
I. Luke records "his father, Zacharias" as if the readers would be confused if both appellations were not supplied [do we not all know by the record "who" his father is; and, do we not all know by the record that Zacharias was "his father"?].
II. This man was "filled with the Holy Spirit" -- something that happened earlier in the chapter when Mary uttered her praise to Yahweh.
III. The opening statement of the prophecy was that Yahweh, God of Israel, had "visited" and "wrought redemption for" His people.
I. The first question has to do with Luke's apparent "redundancy" in identifying Zacharias in two (extremely obvious) ways.
A. Luke could easily have written, "And he said..." to introduce the prophecy and, even though Zacharias' return to speech was two verses prior, there would have been no mistaking "who" the "he" would have been.
B. Since the prior text had switched over from personal names to characterizations (Elizabeth was identified as "his mother" in 1:60 and Zacharias was identified as "his father" in 1:62), it seems like the "normal" thing to do was to continue on with "And his father was filled..." etc. But, Luke does the attention-arresting thing of going back to the proper name in addition to the relationship-identifier.
1. Minimally, this at least injects "Zacharias" (Yahweh remembers) back into the sense of the material. Interestingly, one of the theses in the material is that Yahweh "remembered His covenant" (1:72).
2. But, perhaps it does more than something "minimal".
a. Perhaps the issue in the outburst of prophetic praise is that Yahweh remembers.
1) Verses 70 and 73 are pointed in their focus upon the prior commitments that Yahweh had made.
2) The "issue" of remembering by Yahweh has nothing whatsoever to do with the notion of "divine forgetting"; rather, it has everything to do with the dawning of the fulfillment of the things promised.
3) It is in this reality -- that Zacharias is playing a prominent role in the divine events that signal the dawning of the fulfillment of ancient promises -- that his name "Zacharias" has its real significance.
b. But Luke brought both of the issues of "father" and "Zacharias" back into his text.
1) The reference to Zacharias as the "father" in the introduction to the prophecy is very likely to be a reference backwards to the predicted impact of John as one who would turn the hearts of the fathers to the wisdom of the just...i.e. Zacharias is the first "father" to come to his senses in respect to "faith" and the "wisdom of the just" because of John's instrumentality in the plan of God. This likelihood is reinforced by the dominant theme in this part of Luke's record of the "fulfillment of the words of God". This addressed a major flaw in Zacharias that was a serious bone of contention in his household.
2) Thus, both the relationship descriptor (father) and the personal name (Zacharias) point to the significant issue: God means what He says, whether it is said recently (to a father) or it is said a very long time ago (to the fathers so that He has to "remember" that He said it -- Zacharias as Yahweh "remembers"). It seems that men tend to think that if a thing is not fulfilled immediately, is was a lie (Zacharias, living barren in the face of a promise made in Deuteronomy, 1500 years previously, not only tends to dismiss the ancient commitment, he uses his disbelief in the ancient to justify his disbelief in the current as he insults Gabriel by disbelieving in his pronouncement).
II. The next issue is the Source of the utterance: the Holy Spirit.
A. This man's mouth had been stopped because of his need to come to "faith" in the place of a cynicism that had been long-developing. God was not satisfied with the man's spiritual condition of "lapsed life" -- the experience which disbelief generates as the promises grow distant in a man's mind.
B. Before that mouth could be useful to the man again, it was useful, first, to the Holy Spirit Who is the well-spring of "faith". There may well be a sense of "sanctification of the mouth" here as the voice of Zacharias could not have helped but to give evidence of his disbelief (indeed, Gabriel had no problem at all in discerning, by the things he said, Zacharias' disbelief); now, however, that voice has a new beginning and it's new beginning is directly from the Holy Spirit. The voice will return to the dominion of the man, but not before it is subject to the total dominion of the Spirit of the God Who Remembers.
III. Luke's reference to "prophecy".
A. This particular word is only used by Luke twice in this gospel...not a major theme.
B. If the two uses are similar (1:67; 22:64), Luke's grasp of "prophecy" was not so much "predictive" as "revelational" (tell us what one cannot know when his senses are restrained from use).
C. Luke's point is that Zacharias was uttering absolutely dependable information.
IV. The Opening Statement.
A. God is to be enormously appreciated..."Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel...".
1. This appreciation is to be founded upon Yahweh as Elohim of Israel.
2. The deliberate Name/Characterization exactly follows Luke's opening form of Name (Zacharias)/Characterization (his father).
3. The personal identification as Yahweh is highly specific against polytheism, or any other "god" and introduces the infinity (I Am) of Being. But, more apropos to this text, this "name" is "personal" as emphasizing the relational issues of One Who speaks to "others" for their good.
4. The Elohim of Israel is deliberately focused upon the Powerful Actor Who acts in behalf of "Israel" whom He renamed Jacob so to be ["Except Thou bless me, I will not release Thee..." -- Genesis 32:24 and following -- "...what is thy name?"]
5. The God of Israel is a "blessing" God Who is to "be blessed" by those to whom He extends blessing.
B. God is to be appreciated because He blesses.
1. He has "visited" His people.
a. This word means "to look upon".
b. It contains the idea of "looking in view of an ultimate objective".
c. It signifies an action that is designed to bring that objective further along the path to fulfillment...He "visits" to "move us along the path of life in His mercy".
2. He has "created a redemption price".
a. The translation "He has redeemed" is flawed in that He had only begun the process of redemption; He had not accomplished it yet.
b. It is better to understand that Zacharias was speaking of the baby in Mary's womb and was announcing that He was to be the Redeemer.
c. It is interesting that John, when identifying Jesus many years later, said "Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world". He is clearly fixed upon Jesus as the Redemption Price.
V. Summary: the issue for Luke is the absolutely fundamental need man has to believe what God says -- whether immediately or a long time ago -- so that his life reveals a flow of blessing in which he rejoices with great joy.